Fascinating two articles that can be found on Salon.com from two different writers concerning albums/songs that they strongly recommend, and why:
First up is author Rick Moody talking about the song “Let It Be” by the Beatles. Next up is singer Rhett Miller on David Bowie’s Hunky Dory.
Both are worth listening to (though I suspect more people have heard “Let It Be” than the entirety of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory…with the possible exception of the song “Changes”).
Which leads me to thinking: What album would I recommend above all others to someone? Now that’s a hard thing to choose.
You would think that, given how big a fan of David Bowie I am that, like Mr. Miller, I’d of course choose one of his albums. Yet as I type these words right now, I don’t know if I would. Yes, I absolutely love David Bowie. And yes, many of his albums are certainly “up there” on my list of all time greats. But would I choose one of those albums above the works of other musical artists I also adore?
Boy, that’s hard to do. As much as I love Mr. Bowie, I also love several of the albums of The Beatles (Abbey Road, The White Album, Sgt. Pepper, etc.). And I really think both the Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall by Pink Floyd are incredible, awe-inspiring works. Then there’s the first and last albums released by the Jim Morrison version of The Doors (for those confused by that statement, the surviving members of the Doors released not one but two albums following Mr. Morrison’s death, Other Voices and Full Circle, before giving up). And what about Jimi Hendrix…and The Clash…and Led Zeppelin…and The Smashing Pumpkins…and….and….
Jeeze, what a hard choice!
So here I sit, still stewing. Still thinking hard. If I had to choose just one -and only one- album above all others, which would it be…
Ah, hell…I’m going predictable here. The album I would choose?
David Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane.
No, the album isn’t perfect (To this day I really, really don’t like his remake of The Rolling Stone’s “Let Spend the Night Together”, found on this album. Likewise, I think the song “Time” is a little too long and morose for its own good). But the good far, FAR outweighs the bad.
The album, which many have noted was “Ziggy Stardust goes to the U.S.”, starts with the terrific “Watch That Man”, a great rocker. Immediately afterwards, we get the equally terrific “Aladdin Sane”, a song that ends with a terrific, fractured piano solo that hints at the madness in the song’s pun title. Following that we get “Drive-In Saturday”, a post-apocalyptic 1950’s sounding rocker (!) that is just incredible.
And then, after all that goodness, comes “Panic In Detroit.” That song, quite frankly, is a complete knockout. I absolutely LOVE that song, and consider it one of David Bowie’s all time best.
After that song comes another rocker, the sarcastic “Cracked Actor,” which is a decent enough song but not one of my favorites (its theme hints at a song Mr. Bowie would release soon after, “Fame”). This is followed by the already mentioned “Time”. After that comes the radio friendly “Prettiest Star” and the fast-forward-able cover of “Let’s Spend The Night Together”.
The album concludes with two absolute gems. “The Jean Genie”, perhaps the most famous song of the album, is followed by the hauntingly macabre cabaret-like “Lady Grinning Soul”.
So, yes, despite not liking two of the songs on this album (and thinking a third is only “ok”), I would still go with Aladdin Sane as an album I would recommend highly to everyone. It may not be “perfect” (so few things are, alas!), but its got so much great material nonetheless that it is a can’t miss.
Highly, highly recommended.